Sugar Packets

She watched the rain through the glass panel. Some hurled themselves against the pane then splashed off as tiny pieces, some came down as rivulets that formed little roads and branches. She watched the world go by below her as she sat sipping a cold, chocolate drink amidst Billie Holiday’s mournful coos. She stared as people huddled into the nearest shelters. A few went inside the coffee shop as the horizon turned into gray ink, spilling over the streets and turning into sheets of water. Soon, save for the cars, trucks and public commute, the road was bereft of life.

She had sugarless coffee back at her office desk that morning because she ran out of those packets she stole from coffee shops and restaurants. She helped herself to a handful whenever an opportunity presented itself. Maybe she wasn’t the only one because the shops have stopped giving out complimentary cream and sugar substitutes too. But she invested P120.00 on coffee. Surely, the packets don’t cost half as much.

She sipped her drink in a languid manner as she stared at somewhere and nowhere in particular. A car’s roof, top of peoples’ heads as they ducked for cover. She loved to space out this way sometimes. She’d take a seat with a good view of the street to just watch.

She’s not the type who’d take the smallest table in an inconspicuous corner at all. She always preferred those big coaches that occupy a large space even when she was alone, this way she’d get maximum comfort and elbowroom. She started doing this when she noticed how people avoided those who sat by themselves, particularly those that stared into space — and occupied the largest space. It’s as if they half expected her to rock back and forth and start crashing her skull against the nearest wall. But who cares what they thought?

And nobody cared about what she thought either. Not anyone she had hoped would. Not the man now, not the man before him. She’d try to tell them something, anything she thought would be of interest to them as a way to deepen what they had, but they always met her suggestions with a shrug or a mumble. The only topic that seemed to get their undivided attention was sex. And she’s so tired pretending to be somebody’s whore just to get her hands at some connection. She’s tired having to play at that game, yet that was the only way they would pay her any mind. They never listened to her when she told them of her frustrations, or of the latest book she has read nor of the latest movie she saw.

”There is nothing for me but to love you, and the way you look, tonight”, Tony Benett said about someone. At a far corner, a man looked deeply into a girl’s eyes as they grappled for and engaged each other’s hands. ”Get a room. That’s what all that attention’s for, lady. Believe me.”, she mused. Meanwhile, Tony Benett insisted on true love. She couldn’t care less. She couldn’t understand where all this love is coming from anyway.

She had once believed in it. She thought that if she pampered a guy enough and set aside her own strength to be submissive to one person, that if she gave her whole being to it, she’d be loved in return. She had once dreamed of becoming a princess in one of those storybook lives she grew up with. She once thought she’d bask in the glow of someone’s undivided attention one day. That people someone cared for actually kept their promises. But no, her heart was never enough.

Not for the former guy to whom she was willing to give up the whole world for, never mind that he wore hearts on a string and that hers was not even one of those hearts but a mere joke. Not even the guy who offered her honesty. This same guy who somehow managed to melt her heart and made her believe in the concept of love after that terrible fall with the practical joker. Whether they drove a car or took the public transport, whether they were tall or short, whether they took her to some posh restaurant or to an open field on a star-filled night, it didn’t matter. They never were genuinely interested in her.

She had wanted to tell this recent guy that she thought of him often. She had wanted to be like Tony Benett and tell the whole world she has found love or at least pretended she had, but all she could ever do was to sing the blues with Billie Holiday. So who cares if she had anything important to say? Not the group who discussed networking to her left, not the two giggling girls in front of her, not the couple who made out at the farthest corner, not the drenched, long-haired guy who spat near a post below. And certainly not him. Not after he made it clear he didn’t want to take their relationship further (she always knew he was sincere). Not a single man she had wanted to take seriously.

Or maybe she hasn’t found real love yet, that’s what her friends always tell her anyway. But maybe she never will. Maybe she will never be taken seriously. But who cares? She hadn’t come to this coffee shop to brood about it either. Nor to assess if she was strong enough to walk away from him and that star-filled night he gave her. And his promises. And his soothing words. Not the way he traced his fingers along the sides of her face, not even the gentleness by which his lips met hers or the way his strong arms warmed her during so many rainy nights. No, she wasn’t just struggling to keep herself intact as she braced herself for another relationship that is doomed to crash against a solid wall. Not now. Not when she has learned to believe.

She sat transfixed at nowhere in particular not to think about anything at all. She never even had an idea what brought her there. She felt at her pocket for something that stung her waist. Ah yes. The sugar packets. She needed a fresh supply of sugars and cream for her morning coffee.

The droplets now came in drizzles as hints of bright blue plastered themselves across the horizon. She took a sip from her drink without taking her eyes off the street and managed a long, slurping sound. She stared down at her plastic cup as if seeing it for the first time and placed it slowly down the table. Nothing but ice. The rains have let up, she figured it was time to get going.

Written by soultrainchick and first appeared on

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